Smoothies are the darling of the weight loss world. They’re quick and easy to throw together, are conveniently portable, need minimal prep, require absolutely no cooking skills, can be thrown together on any kind of a budget, allow you to explore your creative side (and allow you to use up all of the left-over fruits and veggies in your kitchen that are about to over-ripen), and are a great way to get yourself to eat all of the healthy things you probably wouldn’t have unless they were masked inside a sweet, creamy and vibrantly colored drink. With all of the nutrition of a health food and all of the taste of a sinful dessert, smoothies seem to be a first-class ticket to Slim City.
So why hasn’t the weight-loss plane taken off yet?
It’s because not all smoothies are created equal. Some constitute a healthy, low-calorie, high-nutrient well-rounded snack that helps you fuel your body right while shedding pounds. Others are just glorified hot fudge sundaes in a blender that ramp up sugar cravings while thickening your thighs.
Avoid these common smoothie-making land-mines to ensure that your smoothies are helping you get healthy, stay energized, feel full and lose weight while following a healthy weight loss diet and exercise program.
8 Common Smoothie-Making Mistakes that Make You Gain Weight
- Too Much Fruit Filling. Whole fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and give your smoothie a fantastic punch of sweetness with natural – rather than artificial – sugars. But sugar is still sugar, and packing in too many fruits can start to tally up the calorie count of your shake. Your body also breaks sugar down rather quickly, leaving you hungry and craving more food an hour later. Portion the amount of fruit that you use, and choose high-fiber options like apples, berries, kiwis and pear rather than melon or cantaloupe. It’s also important to pair your fruit with protein, to keep your blood sugar, energy level and food cravings from spiking and crashing soon after polishing off your shake.
- Poor Protein Profile. Every good, energizing weight-loss smoothie should contain the right amount of high-quality protein. This is because protein is a thermogenic food that activates your metabolism while balancing your blood sugar and making you feel full on fewer calories. Protein also helps you grow and preserve muscle tissue, which burns more fat and calories than any other type of body tissue while pumping up your energy, increasing your strength and giving you a lean, toned physique. Good sources of protein for your smoothie include organic milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans, nut or nut butter, and a high-quality protein powder like SLIMQUICK Pure’s Protein Powder.
- Forgotten Fiber. Fiber is every dieter’s BFF. Upping your daily fiber intake is one of the most simple and effective ways to start dropping dress sizes. So leaving out the fiber in your weight loss smoothie is like leaving out the gas in your car. Add high-fiber foods like kale, berries, raw nuts, beans, prunes, chia seeds, flax, hemp hearts, a tablespoon of plain cooked oats, or a fiber-fortified protein powder.
- Over-sweetening the Pot. Too much of a good thing starts to make it a bad thing. Nothing beats the pleasure of a delicious smoothie that tickles your taste buds with naturally sweet fruits and veggies. But throwing calorie-consciousness out the door and dumping additional sweeteners into the blender turns your weight loss smoothie into a pulverized Krispy Kreme. This defeats the entire purpose of making a smoothie in the first place. Avoid using sweetened yogurts, milks, non-dairy beverages or juices in your smoothie, sticking to plain options instead. Allow the natural sweetness of berries, apple, banana, prunes, carrots, cooked sweet potato, kiwi, or other whole, high-fiber foods to flavor your smoothie without resorting to additional squirts of maple syrup or (heaven forbid!) adding sugar. If you’re being very strict with your carbohydrate intake, you can steer clear of fruit in your smoothie all together and use stevia extracts instead. You can also experiment with other flavorings to boost both the taste and the weight loss powers of your smoothie without upping the sugar content, with additions like cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla bean, etc.
- Removing the Skin from Your Skin-ny Smoothie. While it’s second nature for most of us to toss the peels of fruits and veggies before adding them to the blender, it’s time to start thinking of these skins as more than just nature’s food packaging. Not only are they packed with phytonutrients, but the skins are also fiber-freebees that turn a sugary fruit into a slow-digesting bowel buddy that keeps your blood sugar stable and helps to manage your weight. While a minced banana peel smoothie may not appeal, keeping on the thin skins of apples, pears, carrots, and even kiwis or bits of your citrus fruit rinds when making a smoothie can add a substantial fiber boost and lower the glycemic index of your shake with little cost or effort.
- Overdoing the Dairy. A whey protein-milk-yogurt smoothie may seem like a beautifully creamy, deliciously high-protein idea on paper. In reality, however, you may not feel (or sound) as beautiful when you’re doubled over with stomach cramps and digestive upset in the bathroom. Combining too many dairy-based foods in your smoothie may make it difficult for your body to digest, leading to bloating, indigestion and stomach pain. If you choose to do dairy, limit yourself to one dairy-based ingredients per smoothie, and don’t combine dairy ingredients with citrus fruits or juices.
- Filtering out the Fat. The cut-out-all-fat-to-lose-the-fat weight loss myth went out with the 90s. We now know that moderate amounts of healthy fat keep up healthy and our weight controlled. If you attempt to concoct a smoothie with zero percent fat, than it’s likely to send your blood sugar for a rollercoaster ride and to have you stark raving hungry again in a few minutes. Try adding a small amount of healthy fat to your smoothie from high quality sources, such as avocado, coconut oil or a spoonful of raw nuts or seeds, and avoid using no-fat milks or yogurts.
- Adopting a Liquid Diet. Blending up a handful of healthy, low-calorie foods into a well-balanced snack or small meal replacement once or twice a day is a convenient and delicious way to help you stay energized, stick to a good eating plan and lose weight. However, turning all of your meals into liquid lunches throughout the day can have the exact opposite effect. Your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, so sipping all of your food through a straw rather than chewing it can turn on your body’s “starvation” response, triggering hunger, cravings, and a slowing metabolism. Avoid weight loss programs that encourage a liquid diet, and limit yourself to two healthy smoothies a day. Make the rest of your meals solid ones and drink plenty of clean spring water, lemon water or herbal tea in between.